Petridish
Got an experiment? A new site might let strangers back it.

If you’ve heard of Kickstarter, you know it’s a popular way for bands, filmmakers, and other creative types to harness their fanbase for funding. Now Petridish wants to be the Kickstarter for science.

The site, which launched on March 6, allows scientists to solicit funding for their projects from the crowd and award prizes to those who donate. Projects include everything from chasing sea turtles in Peru to searching for moons outside our solar system.  If a project does not meet or exceed its goal, then the money is returned.

Sound familiar? Petridish follows the same basic mechanics as Kickstarter, but with a couple key differences. Like Kickstarter, Petridish takes 5% from each donation to help cover its operating costs. But if a user chooses to post about the project on Twitter or Facebook before donating, then Petridish kicks that 5 percent back to the project.

Also, Petridish currently only accepts projects under $25,000, whereas Kickstarter has made recent headlines by showcasing multimillion-dollar endeavors.

While some would argue that Kickstarter for science projects already exists—it’s called Kickstarter, not to mention rivals like IndieGogo—limiting its projects to just one field could help Petridish better cater to the needs of its specific community.

“We’re trying to build a community based on people who like and love science research,” co-founder Matt Salzberg told Talking Points Memo.

Furthermore, Kickstarter, with its vast collection of wildly different projects, can be a bit daunting to browse. (Hence the rise of Fundhaus, formerly known as Kickstumbler, a site which showcases random Kickstarter projects in an effort to make it easier to discover projects to fund.) Petridish’s more focused approach could endear itself to users.

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